"Honor" in Henry Iv, Part I – Falstaff vs. Hotspur

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"Honor" In Henry IV, Part I – Falstaff vs. Hotspur
According to F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." Indeed, very few people have this quality, the playwright William Shakespeare being one of them. In many of his plays, "Henry IV, Part One" among them, Shakespeare juxtaposes different worldviews, ideologies, and even environments. His characters usually provide a clear example of a split among them in one of many perspectives. One of his characters in "Henry IV"—Falstaff—is first seen as an endearing, uproariously funny scoundrel and later reveals himself more of a lowlife with his view of honor—he seems
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He says "I like not such grinning honor as Sir Walter hath: give me life, which if I can save, so; if not, honor comes unlocked for, and there's an end." (V, iii) Thus, honor is, as Falstaff says, nothing more than a word, for it expresses a concept, which can be conveniently twisted to support whatever side of any battle that one is on.
Hotspur, on the other hand, is always seen as "honorable" even though he has caused this whole war; there is no way, therefore, for anyone to correctly say what brings honor and what dishonors. The second time the word "honor" appears in the play, it is on the lips of Hotspur, who is damning the King and urging his father and Worcester to "redeem / [their] banish'd honors and [to] restore [them]selves..." (I, iii). The reader can easily see Shakespeare's notion that the concept of honor and its embodiment seldom come together in the reality of a single person—certainly the way that Hotspur wants his father and uncle to redeem themselves (by dethroning the king) is not very honorable, yet his honor is from battles won in the king's name. So despite his treasonous thoughts, his honor from battle remains with him for the rest of his life, as even the prince calls him "valiant." (V, i) Both Hotspur and the King believed in the undegenerate chivalric conception of honor, which was a lofty one. Under it, trial by battle, and war, became religious affairs. Hotspur also talks of "honor" as a symbol for a trophy of victory: he

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